US calls for solution to Cuban migrant crisis

US calls for solution to Cuban migrant crisis in which thousands of Cubans aiming to reach US soil are stuck in transit countries

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Cuban migrants stand as they wait for instructions from the local authorities in Puerto Obaldia in the province of Guna Yala November 25, 2015.

The US called central American governments to find a solution to humanitarian crisis in which many Cubans headed to US are stuck in Costa Rica, the top US charge d'affaires in Havana, Jeffrey DeLaurentis said on Monday.

Cubans who are concerned that in the aftermath of reestablishing diplomatic relations, Washington will cease or change its immigration policies which grants Cubans visa-free residence on its land through relative ease are rushing to the country.

There are currently nearly 5,000 Cubans in Costa Rica barred from entering Nicaragua who aim to reach the US to seek residency and the right to work, and other 1,300 to 1,500 who are stuck in Panama and unable to enter Costa Rica.

The flow of Cuban migrants with an increase of nearly 80 percent this year caused a regional headache, with Nicaragua and Ecuador, -both allies of Cuba unlike Costa Rica- stopped accepting Cubans without a visa as they used to do before the recent crisis.

However, DeLaurentis said US has no plans to change the immigration policy.

"The bottom line is that we don't have at this time plans to change any aspect of our migration policy," he told Reuters.

"We're encouraging the countries involved to seek solutions. We're very concerned about the human rights of the migrants," he added.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis who earlier said to his Central American neighbors that the country “cannot maintain the Cubans indefinitely” is in Cuba to discuss the situation.

Solis has promised not to deport Cubans and find a solution for them to pass to the US.

Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 says Cubans who fled their country and entered US soil would be allowed to pursue residency after a year. With “Wet foot- dry foot policy,” a 1995 revision made to the act following talks with Cuban government, US stopped admitting Cubans intercepted in US water as they had been doing prior to changes and started returning them to Cuba.  

Cuban mass migration to the US first started when communist leader Fidel Castro overthrow the US-backed government of Cuba in 1959 and aligned itself with the Communist USSR.

Cubans who feared of the negative consequences of the political transition then immigrated to US, mainly during 1960’s and 1970’s.

In support of the those fleeing the communist regime, US gave Cubans financial assistance and automatic residence with the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act.

After a half-century estrangement, the United States and Cuba marked a new era in their diplomatic ties by re-opening their embassies in July.



TRTWorld and agencies